VILNIUS, Lithuania -- Pennsylvania National Guard senior leadership and representatives visited Lithuania June 6-12 to take part in the commemoration of 25 years of successful partnership between the Pennsylvania National Guard and the Lithuanian Armed Forces.

U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Anthony Carrelli, Pennsylvania's adjutant general, and other Pennsylvania National Guard leaders visited Soldiers of the 213th Regional Support Group, Pennsylvania National Guard, June 8. The Soldiers were participating in Exercise Saber Strike 2018, an annual international exercise with more than 18,000 participants this year. The group then attended embassy meetings to visit with staff at the U.S. Embassy in Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania.

The Pennsylvania National Guard leaders travelled to Pabrade, Lithuania June 9 to visit Soldiers of 1st Battalion, 109th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 28th Infantry Division, Pennsylvania National Guard, who were training with partner nations as part of Exercise Saber Strike 2018.

U.S. Army 1st Lt. Cody Newsome, a platoon leader with the 1st Battalion, 109th Infantry Regiment, spoke highly of the Lithuanian partners he'd been training alongside during Saber Strike. "They really like being in the fight; they're incredibly disciplined and easy to work with," Newsome said. "Our guys love them, they seem to love us, and it's very fun to train with them. When it comes to doing work they're as serious as we are and the cohesion between us is amazing."

The State Partnership Program 25-year anniversary celebration took place in Vilnius June 10, with a ceremony held in Lukiskes Square in the center of the city. The ceremony included remarks from Raimundas Karoblis, Lithuania's minister of national defense, U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Anthony Carrelli, Pennsylvania's adjutant general, and Lithuanian Lt. Gen. Jonas Vytautas Zukas, Lithuania's chief of defense.

"Thank you all for your service, for this partnership, and for what you all do for Pennsylvania and the United States of America," said Maj. Gen. Carrelli during his remarks. "It is a great honor for me to stand here and represent the generations of Pennsylvania Guard members who have participated in this partnership and say thank you for being such great friends over the years. We look forward to the next 25 years of this partnership."

Pennsylvania National Guard and Lithuanian Armed Forces leadership presented awards to several military members of their respective partner nation. Following the ceremony, a reception was held in the Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania.

The Pennsylvania National Guard leaders ended their visit to Lithuania with an Exercise Saber Strike 2018 distinguished visitor day. A similar 25-year anniversary celebration was held at Fort Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania, headquarters of the Pennsylvania National Guard, June 14.